Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has criticised the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, for claiming that the military knows the location where the over 200 girls abducted from a school in Chibok, Borno state are being held by Boko Haram. Badeh had told a group of protesters who visited the defence headquarters in Abuja on Monday, that: “The good news for the girls is that we know where they are but we cannot tell you, we cannot come and tell you military secrets here. Just leave us alone, we are working, we would get the girls back.”
However, in an exclusive interview he granted to Channels TV, which was aired last night, Chief Obasanjo dismissed as a public relations gimmick, the claim by the CDS that the Nigerian military knows the exact location where the abducted girls are being held.
“It is a serious issue. If there is something to be done to bring out these girls, it should be done. Whatsoever statement we make, whatever action we take, if we do not really deal with the issue in a way that will bring those girls out safe and secure, and make their parents happy, and give every Nigerian a sense of security, then such statement should not be made”, Obasanjo said.
The former Nigerian leader, who was reported to have intervened to help secure the release of the abductees, also criticised the entire handling of the abduction saga by the country’s government.
President Obasanjo clarified that his intervention into the Chibok abduction matter was not without President Jonathan’s knowledge and approval, saying “I cannot have a plan without the president (Jonathan) being involved. It looked like I was going on one man mission. The president has to be involved and has to say go on”.
Also criticising those who doubted the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls, Obasanjo emphasised that there should be no controversy about the abduction. “Who is making it controversial? Why should it be controversial? Were girls abducted or not? “Can anybody face the parents of those girls and say no girl was abducted? he queried.
Commenting on the statement by President Jonathan that Boko Haram was a plot to pull down his government, Obasanjo said: “If the president is obsessed of one thing than Nigeria, then there is problem. Were Boko Haram in existence or not?
“When I went to Maiduguri they told me that they have been in existence even when I was in government. But that I was pursuing governance and not disturbing their Sharia”, he said.